Racing driver is found dead

Maria de Villota. Photo: JAVIER SORIANO (AFP/GettyImages)
Maria de Villota. Photo: JAVIER SORIANO (AFP/GettyImages)
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Former Formula 1 reserve driver Maria de Villota has been found dead in a hotel room in Seville, Spain.

The Spaniard, daughter of former Spanish F1 driver Emilio de Villota, suffered serious head and facial injuries in an accident in July 2012 when testing for the Marussia team in Cambridgeshire. However, the 33-year-old was cleared to drive again in February despite losing an eye. De Villota had previously raced in Spanish Formula 3 and the Daytona 24 Hours.

F1 teams and drivers have expressed their shock at the news. Caterham reserve, Alexander Rossi, said: “Absolutely stunned and heartbroken to hear Maria De Villota has passed away. My thoughts and prayers go out. We will never ever forget you.”

A Mercedes spokesperson said: “Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Maria de Villota following the tragic news of her passing. Her courage, determination and hope were an inspiration to many. She will be sadly missed by our sport.”